2021 was a year that brought a tonne of uncertainty, however it still provided plenty of opportunity to produce a wide array of illustrations. Some of the projects have not been released yet but it has been a thrilling experience to contribute drawings for quite a few fantastic watches.
MING once again had a strong year of releases and while it was a bittersweet moment to see the 17-series retired, the 17.09 Burgundy and Blue knocked it out of the park. I was very happy to provide a set of teaser drawings for the launch, including the illustration above showing the construction of a gigantic space-based structure. Admittedly it has been disheartening to see the amount of online vitriol surrounding the ‘hyping-up’ of watch releases as it takes the fun out of creative teasers. There are many things to be said about hype culture and watches but I don’t want to go into too much detail here since that is not the subject of this write-up. That being said, I remain keen to make illustrations that can delight watch lovers whether the drawings are released before or after the watch is shown to the public. I am also fully enthusiastic to support and promote well-designed watches and friendly, competent watchmakers. The MING team and their watches fall into both of those categories.
Surprise, surprise, I’m not done with MING yet! About a month after the launch of the 17.09 Burgundy and Blue, MING introduced their first watch collaboration made with the Massena LAB brand. I created another trio of illustrations for the launch but kept the MING details more subtle as the drawings were promoted by Massena LAB. I got to include some bee-inspired vehicles to tease the watches’ prominent honeycomb patterned dials.
MB&F has been one of my favourite brands for a long time now, and being able to provide drawings for not only one of their most exciting releases of the year, but a watch for a good cause was truly a dream project. The ONLY WATCH auction founded by Luc Pettavino raises money to fund research that supports those living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The biennale auction features around 50 piece-unique watches and MB&F is a consistent participant. For the 2021 auction, MB&F redesigned their HM10 Bulldog into perhaps the ultimate panda watch. I provided a set of illustrations for the launch of the HM10 Panda as well as a small narrative series to fill the time between the launch and the auction.
The drawings spent some time in Switzerland before heading along with the watch to the winning bidder. MB&F has uploaded all eight drawings on their website so you can see the complete set there.
The Omega Flightmaster is a crazy watch, and the full gold version goes straight into stratospheric-bonkers levels. Though this drawing wasn’t made to tease or promote a launch, it sits among the year’s highlights since it was simply so fun to draw the watch in all of its brutalist opulence. The Flighmaster also tugs at the same heartstrings as one of my all-time favourite watches, the Speedmaster Mk III.
The Charles Frodsham Double Impulse Chronometer is an infinitely fascinating watch. I have been lucky enough to see (and hold!) a Double Impulse Chronometer and one of the first things that struck me was the ice-like quality of the ceramic dial. This is no ordinary white dial, while it and the rest of the watch both feel extremely robust, the dial also has an almost ethereal quality. As a hockey-loving Canadian, the closest thing I could relate it to is the surface of a polished ice rink. This quality inspired the concept for Frodsham’s 2021 holiday card illustration. I included quite a few different skating activities to encourage some joy at the end of a turbulent year.
This drawing is a sequel of sorts to last year’s Greubel Forsey Signature 1 poya illustration. This time it is the new Balancier S² that plays host to a herd of cattle being moved about in the alpine countryside. Like the previous poya illustration, this drawing could be cut from black paper to show the same image.
Finally a drawing made for Watches by SJX that captures a cosmic scene inspired by the Kudoke 2 Zodiac. Helping to design this watch was undoubtedly the highlight of my year and it was fitting that my final illustration of 2021 focused on this watch. SJX asked for something that featured the Zodiac and could be used as a new year’s greeting card. I hope the bright nebulous energy from this image can fuel an exciting year ahead.